Tears of the Sun
2 out of 5 stars
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This is one of those films that thinks it's hugely worthy when it's actually just another action flick. Sure, it touches on serious themes of civil unrest, ethnic cleansing and doing the right thing ... but it's also pure American fiction. Lt Waters (Willis) leads his highly-trained group of soldiers into remote Nigeria in the middle of a bloody civil war. Their goal is to rescue an American citizen, a humanitarian doctor (Bellucci) who refuses to go without her patients. So Waters and his men defy orders and try to help some 30 refugees escape through the jungle to Cameroon, all while being pursued by a ruthless rebel colonel (Bowens).

The story is urgent and timely; the problem is the approach, which says murder's fine if you're a good guy. Waters and crew engage in slaughter just as ruthless as the "villains", and yet we're supposed to root for them because they don't rape or torture their victims. This rah-rah fanatical attitude undermines the film; it's like Three Kings without the cynicism! That said, the film's first third sets the scene brilliantly, establishing characters that rise above stereotypes. Willis is good in an introspective, steely way; while Bellucci is more than beautiful ... she's tough, relentless and determined to do good amid the carnage (to be fair, she is horrified by the Americans' actions). Fuqua directs the film with his usual stylist touch--visually interesting without overwhelming the story or characters. He sharply captures the cultural mix and begins to touch on the real horrors of modern day Africa, as well as reluctant heroism. But there are some laughably corny scenes (Skerritt's captain only radios Waters from the busy flight deck of an aircraft carrier. What happened to the quiet radio room?). As he progresses, Fuqua starts cranking up the message, which is more than a little disturbing as it justifies brutality if you're on the right side. But in a world where no one thinks they're wrong, where will this mindset lead us?

cert 15 themes, language, violence 29.Jul.03

dir Antoine Fuqua
scr Alex Lasker, Patrick Cirillo
with Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Tom Skerritt, Malick Bowens, Sammi Rotibi, Chad Smith, Paul Francis, Eamonn Walker, Johnny Messner, Nick Chinlund, Charles Ingram
release US 7.Mar.03; UK 12.Sep.03
Columbia
03/US 1h58

I won't leave without my people! Willis and Bellucci.

willis bellucci hauser
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... tears of the sun "This is the new Bruce Willis action movie, with lessons on ethnic cleansing and how horrible people can treat their fellow countrymen in civil wars. The main plot of the movie is soldiers being sent into a 'hot' area in Africa to rescue an American doctor (who happens to be beautiful). Of course she won't go without her people, and the soldiers have pity and end up trying to help get her and her people out. It was an okay movie - kinda sad and definitely predictable, but that is okay too. It no doubt will enlighten those who are unaware of how horrible civil wars can be - and that may be a good thing. I don't think this will be at the box office too long, because it is somewhat depressing. And with war coming, people will want to escape to the movies for laughs, not tears. So if you want to see the action scenes on the big screen, I would hurry up." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 18.Mar.03
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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